Tuesday, November 20, 2007


just this morning, before i left the office to advocate for a client, my boss told me that he had received an urgent request to meet with his boss the afternoon before, but had not been able to contact the boss before the end of the business day. although i realized that the urgent meeting request probably concerned a small administrative matter or a moving discussion of budget minutiae, i worried throughout the morning that the real topic of concern was my impending termination. for that reason, i spent most of the morning worrying whether something i said, a post i had written or a person i had offended would lead to the unexpected end of a job i dearly love. in short course, such worries led to prayers, compulsive crossing and fears that i would not react to the firing in a healthy manner.

i am incredibly relieved that i no longer spend my days commodifying Christ at lightway christian stores, but if i told you that my firing did not leave a scar i'd be lying. i can't tell you how many times over the past two years i've broke out into cold sweats worrying if a word muttered in frustration, a courtesy left undone or a quick check of the scores on espn.com would be my undoing.

much to my relief, i have since learned that my boss' conversation was about minutiae and i am no longer afraid of spending the next six weeks freaking out about employment. however, the termination terrors that i periodically endure annoy me greatly and are yet another reason that i would be terrified to pursue the path of professional christianity.*

* where, i suspect, 25% of what i say, 70% of the movies i watch and 60% of my political opinions could get me fired in very short order.


mike said...

i've been fired from pro-ministry. it is actually kind of fun. you get put into the same catagory as some of the old school heretical big wigs.

good times.

i was just talking with a friend who has had the shit stomped out of her by two christian camps. now she is working in the (gasp) "secular" world. she loves it. they respect her.

crazy how you you have to leave the church and ministry and christians in general to find christian-style grace.

g13 said...

if that friend is who i think she is, she's a cool chick.

i'm with you on the relative dearth of grace in the church. in some sense, choosing the professional christian route is a commitment to meaningless conflict and extraneous drama. but i'm glad some people do it.

i just can't imagine being in a position wherein mentioning fight club or on the road in a sermon or putting an obama sticker on your car could be grounds for termination.

mike said...

ha, it doesn't even take that much. in christian camping you just need to ... well be employed in christian camping. it is all about power and ego and it is ugly. people end up running christian camps (not all people who do this) because they are such bastards that they can't get into mgnt anywhere else.

g13 said...

in regards to ministry management, i am constantly reminded of what my old preaching prof used to say: "ministry is a great place for lazy people to hide."

unfortunately, i have found myself guilty of his indictment at times.


Dale said...

'Ministry is a great place for lazy people to hide"

WOW! That is SOOOOOOOO true, especially in para-church places...only instead of lazy, I would use 'content' and not in a good way, think stagnant or so comfortable there's fear of doing anything else

I'm not to the point where I can say getting fired from ministry was a good thing for me, but I know that good things have come out of it, and as I continue to search for a new work community outside the walls of my house, I'm not even applying at anything remotely resembling a ministry because I've been there, and Grace is not on the list of benefits

Tyler said...

Jeff, this post really resonated with me.

I was fired once from ministry - it sucked. But before the firing I remember any time my boss said, "if you have some time this morning I'd like to meet with you," I knew I was going to have one of those talks... fortunately then I could blame everything on inexperience.

Nowadays I just have to blame my shortcomings on the fact that I don't like pretending I like people (or that I care about all parts of my job). :)

Before Girl said...

Jeff, I think anyone's firing is a traumatic experience. When you were fired from lightway, where I was, I was traumatized, and it wasn't even me!

I've been fired/I quit in the same two sentences (one by my boss, one by me, said over each other), and I've been laid off, which is the nicer way of saying, "We're done here." That was more traumatic for me. I suspected it with nothing more than gut instinct two weeks previously (I had already cleaned out my office) and when my boss came to my office, he asked if we could meet in his office, and I said, "Yeah, but I know why you're here." He turned pale (one of the few times I've ever actually seen that happen), and asked, "How did you know?" To this day, I still don't know how I knew. I was great at what I did, I hadn't pissed off too many people-although I had been snapping at people because I desperately needed a vacation and refused to take one. That could have been it.

g13 said...

thanks for everyone's comments. i was surprised that this hastily written post touched a nerve.

tyler, i actually think about your past experience a lot when i consider the path of professional christendom. i can't imagine getting rolled for a simple difference in personality. if i worked for a church, i'd want a contract that specified that they could only fire me for something substantive such as sexual impropriety, fiscal irresponsibility or inappropriately utilizing the pulpit for partisan political purposes. getting rolled for not having an extroverted personality, posting a blog pic of a group of friends enjoying a libation or inadvertently threatening the lead pastor's fragile ego seems utterly absurd to me. it's little wonder why pastors tend to be exceedingly lonely and have few intimate friends in the congregation. you can't develop closeness with people you can't trust.

krista, getting fired is traumatic, isn't it? fortunately, i think we've both learned from our experiences and have grown adept at failing forward.

dale, good to see you around these parts. you're always welcome.

mike, for the record, i think i would make the worst christian camp counselor ever. i can remember conversations i had with youth ministry kids years ago that went something like this:

snot nosed kid: will you stick your head in a toilet if we raise $1,000 for missions?

gentry: no. but i will stick your head in the toilet for $5.

guess what happened to that poor kid later that evening?

let me give you a hint: he didn't raise $1000 for missions...